Emergency Preparedness

What Would The Ideal Emergency Shelter Be Like?

I’ve been having survival style dreams lately, where I’ve been in the woods in the snow and looking for a place to shelter. In another dream I was trying to to skin a squirrel to try and make a blanket. I think it’s because we’ve been having snow and ice storms lately, and while I’ve been keeping my home woodstove pumping, it still gets cold in the bedroom at night.

It got me to thinking, what would the ideal emergency shelter be like? I have emergency supplies in my home and in my car, of course. But I’m not lucky enough to have a bug-out shelter. I do have ideas for what would make a good one though. It’s a little embarrassing how much thought I’ve put into this, but here goes.

1. The building material.
First, I’d have a separate structure away from my home, like a large garage or tool shed. From the outside it would look like any normal garage or tool shed. But it would be built out of ICF. It’s a form of concrete construction I just discovered. ICFs are hurricane-resistant, fire-resistant, bullet-proof and termite-resistant.

2. The hidden wall.
Inside, it would look just like a normal garage or tool shed. Except I’d have a hidden wall that was , oh, a foot and a half in width, against the back wall, so it wasn’t obvious. I’d have a hinged door so I could open the hidden wall, but I’d have tall shelving units in just the right place to cover the hinges and the latch. No one would know it was there. Inside, I would stash my water cubes, seeds, ammo, guns and 25-year-shelf-life food.

3. Shuttered windows
I’d have windows with protective, armored shutters both inside and out. I’d have a crank on the inside of the shed so I could open and close the shutters on the outside from inside the shed.

4. The periscope
I really think this is my best idea yet. I realized that with the shutters closed, there wouldn’t be much of a way to see outside. I’d want to know if the National Guard was outside, or if it was just a band of gangsters, before I opened the dang door. And I’d want to be able to see all around the house, and perhaps some distance away as well.

To do this, I’d install a ladder that was similar to a library ladder that could roll along a track. When not in use, the ladder would be tucked away behind a panel. When I needed it, I’d roll it out and climb up it into the “loft” or ceiling area of the shed. I’d have a false ceiling reinforced so I could walk on it, and I’d install a periscope, like in a submarine, with a chair that swiveled, so I could see in 360 degrees around my shed. I’d use the extra space up there for more storage of survival gear.

5. I’d have a woodstove.
I’d probably only burn wood at night, so no one could see the smoke, but I’d definitely have a wood stove and lots and lots of wood. More on that later.

6. Warm clothes and boots.
Inside the shed I’d have a hook for a down coat, nice warm boots, hat and gloves that just stayed in there all the time. If I ever needed to lock myself in the shed they would be there.

7. Emergency bed.
I would also stash a good down blanket in a bag in the shed, along with a blow-up mattress.

8. Basic items
Of course, there would be some basics already in the shed, like solar lights, a solar panel, flahlights, a radio and stuff like that. Also, towels and some extra clothes. I’d hopefully be able to get some things from the house, like books or a deck of cards to pass the time. But if I felt like I wouldn’t be able to, I’d keep a stash of reading material or other items to pass time in the shed as well.

9. Access to outside.
If it’s snowing and for some reason it snowed enough that I was snowed in, I’d want to keep the snow undisturbed. I don’t want someone walking by my shed to see that I’ve shoveled the walk. I imagine a large porch and overhang on the backside of the shed, to keep some of the snow from piling up right against the shed. I want to be able to walk outside a little.

10. Access to wood.
A side door from inside the shed would connect by a covered and walled in walkway to a large shed filled with as much wood as I could. This would allow me to walk out of the shed and into the wood room without opening any outside doors or walking in snow, so no one would see footprints.

11. The toilet.
I’d have a composting toilet installed in the wood room, along with a backup supply of the microbe juice that makes the toilets work. If nothing else, a few 5-gallon buckets would probably be ok too.

I know some of you out there have thought about your dream shelter as much as I have. Some of you probably designed your shelters even better than what I’ve imagined. What did I forget? Is the periscope realistic or a stupid idea? Tell me in the comments what the ideal emergency shelter would be like.

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Mark James

Mark James

Mark James lives with his family in Western Oregon, the area that Oregon's FEMA director said "will be toast" in the event of a Cascadian earthquake. He hopes to share information to help others protect themselves and their loved ones.

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